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  • Writer's pictureBenita Garvin


I start all my USC screenwriting classes with the following question: what did you watch in the last week? What did you learn? It's rare to get more than half the room who have watched anything, let alone something they haven't seen before. What is most alarming is how little interest so many film students have in the actual product!!! Millennials don't embrace alarming pre-21st century cinema, which is depressing and demoralizing. And black and white?!! Forget it.

I didn't go to film school. I'm not sure film school or film school as we know it, existed outside of California. I grew up in Detroit. I'm self taught although I didn't realize I educating myself. I just loved movies. I watched as many as I could. The ones I liked, I watched repeatedly. I taught myself without even realizing I was teaching myself. I never had aspirations to write. I simply fell into it by accident. That's why I know this: if I can write, so can everyone else.

It's not a mystery, and it doesn't take a genius! Ask yourself questions: What are you trying to say thematically? Who should we root? Why? What does the main character want? What's at stake? What's the inciting incident? What are the character relationships and how do they change?

Writing is Socratic. You have the answers! You're making it up. It just has to be consistent within the rules of the world you create.

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